|Terra Elan McVoy signs for a fan at the 2013 Books Alive.|
There, I said it. And it’s true.
I’m not sure how the equation balances — whether I gained the friends because they saw me at the event and jumped to the (however erroneous) conclusion that I must be as clever and interesting as they are since I was there, or what.
I do know that many people who were acquaintances in the area became warm friends after we crossed paths there, and others who were complete strangers before the event I can now count as cherished friends.
That’s kind of cool, considering how solitary and personal an endeavor reading or writing is.
BooksAlive 2014, an event organized by the Bay County Public Library, will be at the FSU-Panama City campus next weekend, with free workshops and sessions led by featured authors throughout the day Feb. 1. Pat Conroy, author of the new book, “The Death of Santini,” is the keynote speaker at the (sold-out) luncheon.
But that one day of workshops and sessions isn’t all the visiting authors will be doing. Several will go into local schools the day prior to speak with students, encourage their reading and reveal a wider world. Bill Roorbach, for instance, will visit my Education Encore class and Arnold High School, speaking with seniors of one stripe in the morning and another in the afternoon.
Authors Cynthia Graubart, Patti Callahan Henry and Cassandra King will be the guests at a luncheon Jan. 31 at Triple J Steakhouse in Panama City Beach. Designed as a fun, informal gathering, seating is limited to 40 (reservations are required); tickets are $15; email firstname.lastname@example.org for a reservation. The authors will talk about their books and lives, answer questions from the audience, and will sign copies of their work, which will be available for sale.
“It’s a reader’s best opportunity to make friends on the literary landscape,” Kathie Bennett said to me in a phone call this week. She’s a literary publicist representing many of the authors coming to the event, as well as the daughter of Gerry and Barbara Clemons of Panama City — and I count her as a friend, too.
Barbara Clemons was a great supporter of BooksAlive. One year at a pre-event gathering for volunteers and authors to get acquainted, she called me over to introduce me to Michael Morris, the Birmingham-based author originally from Perry. I’ve been reading his work ever since.
A few years later, not knowing we knew each other, Kathie tried to introduce us and he told her we were cousins. It wasn’t true, but it was worth it for the look she gave us.
“I’ve seen many relationships born at Books Alive,” Kathie said. “It’s not just a book festival — and I attend many book festivals. It’s a time when these writers really connect with readers on a much more personal way, becoming an instant community of writers and readers.”
(This was my Undercurrents column for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald for Jan. 24.)